How Not to Save Money (Why Some “Helpful” Tips are Actually Harmful)

September 13, 2019

Everyone has financial advice for others. Even if it’s well-meaning, that doesn’t make it helpful or wise. It’s easy to criticize how someone handles their money from the outside. However, often, advice to cut back on certain expenses can make things much, much worse. Here are poor money-saving tips to avoid, and how to turn them around into wise strategies.

Don’t Sell Stuff You Use

Unless it’s something you haven’t used in years, don’t sell your possessions just to make your rent. If you plan on using a pawnshop to help cover your bills until a paycheck comes in, make sure to do so wisely. Do you have enough money to cover the interest? Is the item you’re pawning something you don’t mind losing? If the answer to both questions is “no,” then keep that item at home. Computers, televisions, phones, and any other electronics or hobby supplies are more expensive to replace than they’re worth to sell.

Coffee Doesn’t Kill Your Budget

The famous tip of not buying a coffee every day is overrated. If you’re really struggling for money, then this minor expense is unlikely to make an impactful dent in your budget. Beyond that, coffee is sometimes a necessary tool. Caffeine has nearly become a requirement in the modern work environment, to stay productive and avoid the ire of supervisors and managers. If you’re falling asleep at work or, worse, behind the wheel, you’ll have many more troubles than paying rent. If, somehow, you are buying coffee every day, try investing in some “just add water” coffee mixes and flavored syrups. They’re fast and cheap, unlike brewing your own in the morning. Plus, you still deserve to take some money to treat yourself, since living minimally can increase stress and affect mental health. If you’re not fully equipped for the day, this will affect your budget worse than a cheap pick-me-up.

Replacing Your Phone is Okay

This depends on the kind of phone you’re buying, since a slightly upgraded version of your old phone is different from trying to keep up with the latest iPhone. However, buying a new phone can sometimes be a necessary expense. Don’t let people chastise you for something that the rest of the world needs you to use. Especially don’t let anyone shame you for buying a smartphone over a basic call-and-text-only flip phone. Smartphones aren’t just a calling and texting device. They’re a small computer in your pocket, with an alarm clock, a calendar and planner, a watch, a GPS device, and so much more. While we may yearn for the slow-paced era of times gone by – where that it was okay for an email to go unanswered or for you to be unreachable by phone for an hour – that just isn’t the way the world operates now.